Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2015

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Educational Policy and Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Bills, David

Second Advisor

Fumerton, Richard

First Committee Member

Hamot, Gregory

Second Committee Member

An, Brian

Third Committee Member

Hasan, Ali

Fourth Committee Member

Haack, Marcus


The purpose of the study was to identify teacher perception regarding the effects of NCLB on the development of knowledge among elementary school students in two school districts in a Midwestern state. I applied a case-study design to address the research questions, with data obtained from interviews with eight experienced school teachers, who reported on the state of the cognitive development of their students. Epistemology, specifically social and virtue epistemology, served as the theoretical framework for the analysis of the data, thus filling a gap in the literature for an epistemological study of the effects of NCLB. The hypothesis for the study was that NCLB is detrimental to the development of knowledge among elementary students by placing too much emphasis on mandated standardized testing, and by limiting the curriculum to the subjects that are under the requirements for Adequate Yearly Progress (YAP). The analysis of teacher input indicates that NCLB hinders the development of knowledge among elementary school students. This is because educators are constrained by excessive testing requirements, and are thus not able to foster in their students the intellectual virtues necessary for the development of the lifelong learner, the student who is capable of and understands that learning continuous throughout one’s life. Future research is needed to link the scholarship on intellectual virtues to the education of school children, making of the virtues a central and intrinsic part of the educational effort.

Public Abstract

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), the most recent iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), has been at the center of educational debate and scholarship for more than a decade. Controversial from its enactment, NCLB has been criticized for relying too heavily on standardized testing and for reducing the curriculum to a few subjects.

My dissertation addresses the question of how NCLB affected the development of knowledge among elementary school students. Epistemology, the study of knowledge and belief justification, served as the theoretical framework for the analysis of the data. Applying a case study analysis methodology, I interviewed eight experienced teachers for their opinions on the impact NCLB had on the cognitive formation of their students. Specifically, I asked the teachers to report on the state of intellectual virtues development among their students, fundamental for knowledge development.

The findings of the study indicate that NCLB has a negative impact on the development of knowledge among elementary school students. Instead of providing students with the tools they need to become lifelong learners, NCLB forces teachers to teach only content that will be on the mandated tests their students have to pass to demonstrate they know the things they have to know. If the students fail these tests, the consequences are dire for the entire school community.


publicabstract, Educational Policy, Epistemology, NCLB, Social Epistemology, Virtue Epistemology


vii, 202 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 179-202).


Copyright 2015 Gleidson Gouveia